Lee Whack-A-Mole Classic Loader, my experience


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Landric
April 24, 2009, 04:03 PM
I recently purchased a Lee Classic Loader in .38 Special just because I was intrigued by the thing. I thought it might be a nice way to take handloading on the road. I broke it out this afternoon and decided to try to load a few rounds (which felt a little strange sitting on the floor of my handloading room under two presses, both of which happened to have .38 Special dies installed in them). I had been loading .38 Special this morning, so I had the components out. Seemed like a perfect time to give it a try.

Anyway, I followed the instructions that were included. They were better than Lee's usual instructions (and the pictures were actually useful); that was a nice change. It took a while (probably longer since I was new to it), but the Whack-A-Mole turned out ammunition that looked exactly the same as the rounds I loaded on the press, chambered just fine, and seems to be of similar quality.

I'm impressed with the system, it was both easier to use and of higher quality than I was expecting.

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DesmoDucRob
April 24, 2009, 04:41 PM
I've also always been impressed by that simple little design. I love watching internet video of guys who can use these with speed that puts my single stage ability to shame.:eek:

highlander 5
April 24, 2009, 05:28 PM
I started with the LCL worked well for the money but priming cases with a hammer:what::what::what:. Have to admit I was young and stupid at the time.

Reid73
April 24, 2009, 05:31 PM
Landric, other people have had your experience and arrived at the same conclusions (see here (http://www.outdoorsmenforum.ca/showthread.php?t=15487), for example).

Lots of guys love to sneer at the old Lee Loaders; notwithstanding that they: (1) are simple to use, (2) are inexpensive, (3) take up very little space, and (4) are capable of producing excellent ammunition.

The above features are all highly desireable, and Lee deserves a vote of thanks for introducing so many people to reloading. Many shooters would like to give it a try, but are intimidated by the complexity and cost. The Lee Loader is the answer.

There are only three real knocks against the Lee Loaders.

First, they are relatively slow to use. That is a turn-off for many folks who like high-volume semi-auto plinking, but makes no real difference for the hunter with a bolt action or single shot rifle. For loading one or two boxes at a time, they work just fine. Who's in a rush? :)

Second, they only neck-size. That means that their cartridges won't work well in multiple firearms of the same calibre. On the plus side, neck-sizing means that your brass will usually last longer.

Third, they are not made in uncommon calibres (Lee continues to produce new ones but only in a small selection of popular calibres: e.g., .308 Win., .357 Magnum, .223 Rem., .45 Colt, .303 British, etc.). However, if you look around you can usually find older examples in different calibres, often in barely used condition.

A few links that you might enjoy:

General

"Getting Back to Basics with the Lee Loader" (http://www.jesseshunting.com/articles/guns/category8/117.html)

"The Lee Loader: Thinking Out of the Box" (http://www.303british.com/id31.html)

How To

epinions: "Classic Lee Loader" (http://www.epinions.com/review/LEE_PRECISION_CLASSIC_LEE_LOADERCal_30_06_Spgfld/content_452963569284)

"Reloading with the Lee Loader--lots of pics" (http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=844952)

"Handloading on a Shoestring" (http://www.beartoothbullets.com/tech_notes/archive_tech_notes.htm/51)

"Reloading 101 Using The Classic Lee Loader" (http://www.bosesguns.com/Reloading_101_using_The_Classic_Lee_Loader_s/840.htm)

Landric
April 24, 2009, 10:01 PM
Seating the primer with a hammer is somewhat different, but given the way its done, the worst that happens is the primer gets set off. No damage, no injury, just a bang.

Of course, the Lee auto prime hand primer is about $15, so one could spring for that and skip the hammer seating step.

I really didn't take the system seriously as an option until I tried it. Yes, its slow, but it works.

David Wile
April 24, 2009, 11:10 PM
Hey folks,

I tried one of those a little over 50 years ago. I loaded one box and decided it was not for me. I took it back and spent a little more for an RCBS Junior press. Since then, I have had bigger and better presses, but I also tried the Lyman 310 Nutcracker hand tool, and still use it on occasion just for the fun of it. I never thought the Lee Loader was any fun.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

Eagle103
April 24, 2009, 11:16 PM
For $15, maybe $20 now I think it's one of the coolest tools you can own.

ranger335v
April 24, 2009, 11:16 PM
"I'm impressed with the system, it was both easier to use and of higher quality than I was expecting."

Upon that neat little package the giant we now know as Lee was built. It had a couple of competitor/imatators in the early days but they died. That didn't happen because the Lee Loader kit was inexpensive, it happened because it was GOOD! Still is.

lgbloader
April 24, 2009, 11:21 PM
I have 3 progressive Blue presses, 4 single stage presses, a shot shell press and a hand held job but I still love them Lee Hammer-time kits.

I wish I had more of em.

LGB

FROGO207
April 24, 2009, 11:47 PM
I remember when I was a preteen back in the early 70's helping my grandfather load a bunch of 410 with a lee loader then going rabbit hunting. I was amazed that what we had just made worked and was so accurate. I was hooked. Now I reload over 25 different cal. Yes I still have that loader I inherited and still use it to load my 410 to this day.:)

AirplaneDoc
April 24, 2009, 11:53 PM
This was the first "press" I owned. My Dads best friend gave me 1 for my birthday, to go with the 45-70 trapdoor that my dad had given me as my first rifle a few months before. He and my dad taught me to load my own with it. I still use it, when I get the old trapdoor out every so often and shoot a few rounds. As few as I load it is not worth the expenst to buy Dies or the time to do a setup.

AD

ants
April 25, 2009, 12:29 AM
Straightwall cases are sized full length. Only bottleneck cartridge are neck-sized.

Landric, yes you can use it in the field for load workup. Size and prime a bunch of empty cases on your press, then take them to the field with powder and bullets. If you have a Stanley Workmate, that's your benchtop.

If you want the ultimate in consistent loads, use the same brass case for all 5 shots in a string.

SquirrelNuts
April 25, 2009, 02:51 AM
I want one of these as soon as I can find one in .30-06

Landric
April 25, 2009, 03:27 AM
Graf's has the .30-06 Classic Loader in stock:

http://www.grafs.com/product/232486

I went ahead an ordered myself a .44 Magnum Classic Loader to go with my .38 Special loader. It can be used for .44 Special also, so I figure it will be useful for loading at the range and such, along with my .38 Special loader.

Dragk913
April 25, 2009, 03:37 AM
Does anyone know if Lee makes these in 8x57 Mauser?
I didn't see it on their website, but some guy said he had one..

Landric
April 25, 2009, 03:44 AM
I don't think they do anymore, the availability on the Classic Loader has been cut down a lot. However, they did at one time, so finding a used one is an option.

mp43sniper
April 25, 2009, 09:26 AM
Found one locally yesterday in .44 mag for $18. Can't wait to try it out, but alas....the shop had no bullets. I'll probably order a mold and do it cave man style.

Craig

lgbloader
April 25, 2009, 01:45 PM
cave man style is the way to go.

LGB

Rebel Dave
April 25, 2009, 02:12 PM
I have a NIB unopened, Lee loader in .357 Mag, If any one is interested, for sale. Some how i ended up with two in this calibre.
I use these quite often, and enjoy using them. Like some others, I have had a few primers, go off, for a little awakening.

Rebel Dave

FROGO207
April 25, 2009, 02:29 PM
I'll take it off your hands if we can agree on the particulars. email rfoster@swhfire.org
Rick

krs
April 25, 2009, 03:13 PM
I started with one in .38 Spec. but got the best use out of .45-70. I used to take five cases to the range to load for my old trapdoor right on the bench. Later I graduated to a small arbor press to do it without whacking but the whole loading setup fit in a Superman lunchbox (that I REALLY wish I still had!).

They're up to $33. now. Seems like I paid $9.95 for mine.

Did anyone ever have the deluxe whack-a-mole? The Target version with a neck turning tool? I sold an unused one of those in ebay a little while back in .222 Rem. for $75. The buyer seemed really happy to have it and made me think I'd priced it too low.

UnderDawgAl
April 26, 2009, 09:40 AM
I've just bought two used MRC Lee Loaders, one in .357 Magnum and one in .44 Special. The MRC-branded ones are the ones which were originally produced under the old Lee Custom Engineering name (an earlier Richard Lee business, which he was forced to leave, per his comments in his reloading handbook).

The advantage to the MRC ones is that they include a handheld priming tool, like Lee's Improved Priming Tool. It eliminates setting off a primer.

I bought both for $20. They include the original data sheets. Some time with Flitz, a soft cloth, and some 0000 steel wool has made the .357 set look new. Now I need to do the same with the .44 Spl set.

redneck2
April 26, 2009, 10:39 AM
IIRC, David Tubb used one of these to set a number of long range rifle records.

kragluver
April 26, 2009, 06:10 PM
I have one for both .30-06 and .303. I bought them mainly for neck sizing (which you can do quickly even with these tools). HOWEVER -- I've found that both the '06 and the .303 dies over-size (or is it "under"?) the necks such that the bullets are loose in the case in many instances. I have had to re-size the cases using another neck sizing die in my press.

Landric
April 26, 2009, 08:54 PM
Does anyone know if the .45-70 Government Classic Loader full-length resizes? I figure it probably does since the .45-70 lacks a neck being a tapered case, but it would be nice to know for sure.

I loaded a couple more .38 Special rounds with the Whack-A-Mole system after doing about 100 (in about 1/2 hour) on my Lee Classic Turret. Again, rounds are just as nice and its still a lot of fun.

Reid73
April 27, 2009, 11:33 AM
No, the 8x57 is no longer made. However, if you check gunshows you should be able to find one sooner or later. Or there is one for sale on eBay right now: see here (http://cgi.ebay.com/LEE-Loader-for-8-x-57-MM-Mauser-Rifle-Bullets-323-Dia_W0QQitemZ290313168898QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item290313168898&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318%7C301%3A0%7C293%3A2%7C294%3A50).

Quoheleth
April 27, 2009, 12:11 PM
Because of this thread, I busted mine out this morning and ran a half-box of .357 Magnum.

Then, for comparison, I pulled out my Lee Hand Press (hand-held, single-stage press) and ran the other 50.

I had fun with both.

Meh...the hand press is quieter, but gave me hand cramps having to hold on to the dinky handle area. But there's something about pretending to be a highly skilled, finely-gifted craftsman with the hand tools that add a bit of romance - for lack of a better word - to the Classic Loader.

Thanks for bringing this up...

Now, back to the turret press to crank out a couple hundred .45ACPs.

Q

Reid73
April 27, 2009, 01:59 PM
there's something about pretending to be a highly skilled, finely-gifted craftsman with the hand tools that add a bit of romance - for lack of a better word - to the Classic Loader.Right on! There's a difference between 'handloading' and 'reloading'. :)

Dragk913
April 27, 2009, 02:22 PM
Reid73...I would just like to let you know, I love you.
Lol. Thanks a lot.
I tried looking on eBay, but for some reason it didn't show me anything.

Reid73
April 27, 2009, 02:44 PM
Huh. The link works for me. :confused: Sorry it doesn't function for you.

Try going to ebay.com and search "Lee Loader" (the auction for the 8x57 loader ends May 3rd, so no rush).

Asherdan
April 27, 2009, 04:48 PM
Does anyone know if the .45-70 Government Classic Loader full-length resizes?

Nope, neck sizes only.

I started reloading with one in 45-70, worked out great as a way to step into reloading.

Landric
April 27, 2009, 05:15 PM
If it was me, and I really wanted a Classic Loader in 8x57mm, I'd buy it now. $37.50 is a little steep, but they don't make it anymore and the way things have been going on ebay with everything handloading related, if you wait to bid it might go for more than $37.50, or someone else will buy it now.

SquirrelNuts
April 27, 2009, 05:55 PM
I would like to use one of these bad boys at the range on a slow day. It would be great practice and training to be able to load in the field.

Dragk913
April 27, 2009, 06:55 PM
Huh. The link works for me. Sorry it doesn't function for you.

Oops. I meant that I tried finding one yesterday but couldn't find one. Your link works :)


And I actually just "buy it now"'ed.
I was hoping I could wait the 6 days and save a couple dollars, but I can't risk losing it :D

AirplaneDoc
April 27, 2009, 06:56 PM
Anybody ever use the Wack-a-mole for loading shotgun shells?

If so do you happen to know if it will work with brass shells.

Reason I ask, is I am in the process of getting a starter cannon, which takes 10 ga blanks. (I have 20 brass shells) I don't currently have a setup for loading shotgun shells, and don't really want to invest in one, for the few that I will be firing. The wack--a-mole would be perfect, if it would work on brass shells.

thanks

AD

Landric
April 27, 2009, 07:02 PM
Dargk913 said:

I'm planning on BIN'ing it as soon as lame PayPal uploads my money.

The listing says 7 days to pay. BIN and wait a few days to pay if you have to. That is, of course, if you really want it. I always like to see THR members score something they are looking for. :)

ETA: It just ended, I hope that was you.

EMC45
April 27, 2009, 08:02 PM
Got 2. 12ga and 20ga. Both given to me by a member of another forum. Use the 12 a bunch!

Dragk913
April 27, 2009, 11:35 PM
The listing says 7 days to pay. BIN and wait a few days to pay if you have to. That is, of course, if you really want it. I always like to see THR members score something they are looking for.

ETA: It just ended, I hope that was you.



Haha. It was me :)
I was rereading the auction when I saw the 7 day thing, so I went ahead and BIN.

Thanks!

Reid73
April 28, 2009, 11:37 AM
I don't know how often 8x57 loaders become available on eBay, which is the acid test for whether $37.50 is a good price or not. But since you wanted one, it was probably smart to go ahead and "buy it now" rather than trying to save a few bucks and risk being disappointed.

It also saves having to cruise eBay regularly for a few weeks ... your time is worth something.

Landric
April 28, 2009, 03:10 PM
Considering its not made in 8x57mm anymore and the set appears to be complete and in good shape, I think $37.50 is a pretty reasonable price. The new Classic Loaders are selling for about $25 at the various online (non-ebay) vendors. Many of them are in stock, and those same in-stock loaders are selling for $30 or more used on ebay. Ebay is generally not a good place to score handloading equipment, but in the case of the 8x57 loader, I think DragK913 did well.

"Tactical" is a synonym for expensive junk.

There, fixed it for you, and couldn't agree more.

DEDON45
April 28, 2009, 04:58 PM
I started out with one of those in .30-30 ... was fun, but a lot of work... and I set a few primers off here and there whilst seating them. Because of the racket in the garage, my stepfather ended up buying a cheap single stage press (Lee Challenger, the one with the flimsy pot metal toggle joint) ...

A few months ago my buddy was going through some of his dad's old shooting stuff (he passed away a few years ago, still finding cool stuff the old man left behind for his sons) and we came across a .mil ammo can "survival kit" ... we opened it up, had a can (old, had DuPont stamped on it) of IMR4895, two sleeves of primers (Western Primers... before they called them Winchester), some brass, 200 bullets, and an old Lee Loader in .30-06. My buddy says "What is this thing..." I proceeded to show him my skillz with the old Lee Loader... he packed it back up just like his Dad had left it... just in case!

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